Helping Your Heart with a Furry Friend

Dogs are affectionately called man’s best friend. But did you know their companionship also offers benefits for your heart health?

Studies show a canine companion can help with everything from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress.

That’s why Lexington Medical Center hosts a “therapy dog stress break” each Valentine’s Day.

Visitors and staff members can come to the hospital and spend time with furry friends.

Here are some photos from this year’s edition. Each of the dogs participating in the event is a certified therapy dog that visits patients at Lexington Medical Center’s main campus in West Columbia and Extended Care, the hospital’s skilled nursing facility in Lexington.

They are a popular and important part of Lexington Medical Center’s Volunteer Services department.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lexington Medical Center clinicians were on hand to answer questions about how managing stress and finding relaxing activities can help our health. And, visitors could receive a free blood pressure screening.

According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may help reduce a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease:
*Studies have found that pet owners have lower blood pressure and resting heart rates than people who do not have a pet, even when they had a similar body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic profile.
*Research shows dog owners are more likely to be physically active than non-dog owners — tending to walk longer and more often.
*A study found that younger children whose families owned a dog were less likely to be overweight or obese compared with children in families without a dog.
*Additional research has found that pets lower stress and help heart patients live longer.

Dr. Heather Currier – Heart Disease in South Carolina

Heather M. Currier, MD, FACCP, has just joined the team at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery as a cardiothoracic surgeon. In this role, she treats as a variety of cardiovascular and thoracic services, including aortic/mitral valve replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting, and procedures for ascending and thoracic aneurysms, pulmonary diseases, esophageal tumors, lung masses and carotid arteries.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 46 percent of Americans have some form of heart disease. The percentage is higher in patients who are smokers or diabetics. Heart disease is the #1 killer of adults in America. In fact, it kills more people than many forms of cancer combined.

In this WLTX interview, she talked more about her job and her background.

According to Dr. Currier, the most common surgery performed in South Carolina is coronary artery bypass surgery. That’s for someone who has blockages or has suffered a heart attack and needs surgery. During the procedure, doctors take vessels from the patients’ legs and use them to bypass the blockages in the heart. Additionally, as our population gets older, doctors are performing more valve replacement surgery. Over time, heart valves can wear out and either need to be repaired or replaced.

About Dr. Currier
Dr. Currier is an honors graduate of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She earned her medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, earning outstanding performance distinction in surgery. She went on to complete a general surgery residency at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. She is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Dr. Currier retired as a colonel from the United States Army after more than 24 years of active duty. At retirement, she was serving as the chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at both Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia, and Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia.

Dr. Currier is a recipient of the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for her combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her other positions and awards include Deputy Commander of Surgical Services, Chief of Surgery, the Army Commendation Medal and the National Defense Service Ribbon. In addition to these accomplishments, in 2014, the American Board of Cardiology awarded her with its Award of Honor and recognized her as a board consultant for cardiac surgery.

Prior to joining the Lexington Medical Center Network of Care, Dr. Currier was a practicing cardiothoracic surgeon at Augusta University Medical Center, University Hospital and Georgia Children’s Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, and provided locums coverage at Piedmont Athens Regional in Athens, Georgia. She also serves as an advanced trauma life support instructor.

Join Us For A Pet Therapy Stress Break on Valentine’s Day

Dogs are affectionately called man’s best friend. But did you know their companionship also offers benefits for your heart health? Studies show a canine companion can help with everything from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress.

That’s why Lexington Medical Center is hosting its annual “therapy dog stress break” where visitors and staff members can come to the hospital and spend time with furry friends on Valentine’s Day. The event is free and open to the public.

Community members are invited to the East Tower Atrium inside Lexington Medical Center from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 14 to shake off some stress by petting a hospital therapy dog. Lexington Medical Center clinicians will also be on hand to answer questions about how managing stress and finding relaxing activities can help our health. And, visitors can receive a free blood pressure screening.

According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may help reduce a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease:
*Studies have found that pet owners have lower blood pressure and resting heart rates than people who do not have a pet, even when they had a similar body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic profile.
*Research shows dog owners are more likely to be physically active than non-dog owners — tending to walk longer and more often.
*A study found that younger children whose families owned a dog were less likely to be overweight or obese compared with children in families without a dog.
*Additional research has found that pets lower stress and help heart patients live longer.

Each of the dogs participating in the event is a certified therapy dog that visits patients at Lexington Medical Center’s main campus in West Columbia and Extended Care, the hospital’s skilled nursing facility in Lexington. They are a popular and important part of Lexington Medical Center’s Volunteer Services department.